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Saturday, February 18, 2006

You Can't Contain This 

Where: The Container Store, 1 East Union, Pasadena, CA 91103
When (GMT): Saturday, 18 February, 2006, 2100

Perhaps you've been to The Container Store. If you haven't, let me tell you that they sell containers. They are storage and organization specialists, and provide a wide variety of products to organize kitchens, closets, DVDs, and so forth.

But they don't just sell containers. They were also selling a book from Leonard L. Berry, a self-proclaimed service quality expert.

So, who is he?

Dr. Leonard L. Berry is Distinguished Professor of Marketing, and holds the M.B. Zale Chair in Retailing and Marketing Leadership in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. He is also Professor of Humanities in Medicine in the College of Medicine at The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center. During the 2001-2002 academic term he served as a Visiting Scientist at Mayo Clinic studying healthcare service. He is the founder of Texas A&M's Center for Retailing Studies and served as its director from 1982 through June 2000. He is a former national president of the American Marketing Association.

Professor Berry's most recent books, all published by The Free Press, include Discovering the Soul of Service, On Great Service, Marketing Services: Competing Through Quality, and Delivering Quality Service.

Dr. Berry has been identified as the most frequent contributor to the English-language services marketing literature in the world. He has twice been recognized with the highest honor Texas A&M bestows on a faculty member: the Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching and the Distinguished Achievement Award in Research. He is the recipient of the Career Contributions to Services Marketing Award from the American Marketing Association's Services Marketing Special Interest Group, the Outstanding Marketing Educator Award from the Academy of Marketing Science and the Pinnacle Award as Marketing Educator of the Year from Sales and Marketing Executives International. He was recently honored at Texas A&M by being named a University Distinguished Lecturer for 2002-2003.

Venus Organic thinks that Berry is way cool, and says that they would never commit any of Berry's customer service blunders:

1. True Lies
2. Red Alert
3. Broken Promises
4. I Just Work Here
5. The Big Wait
6. Automatic Pilot
7. Suffering in Silence
8. Don't Ask
9. Lights On, No One Home
10. Misplaced Priorities

But I did find one person who thought that Berry was not the second coming:

Stumbled across an article about an effort to improve patient access, and care, to medical services, first published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Quoted extensively is Leonard L. Berry, PhD, distinguished professor of marketing at the Mays Business School, Texas A&M University. The professed intent is to convince the industry to become "patient centered" throughout the treatment process. The exceprts below come from the article that was republished on the Advance for Audiologists web site....

"Working at the high-end of expertise is a departure from what goes on now in the industry," Dr. Berry noted. "It means that specialist physicians should do less of what generalist physicians can do, generalist physicians should do less of what non-physician providers—such as nurses and physician assistants—can do, and non-physician providers should do less of what clinical staff can do. What’s more, each caregiver should do less of what appropriately instructed patients and families can do for themselves."...

What makes Prof. Berry think that a patient will appreciate (and accept) getting less of everything? Sounds like the plan to improve care forces the patient to see less qualified people at nearly every point of contact while minimizing the time spent with every patient. WOW! Patients will be infinitely happier, right? The Hippocratic oath bends perilously under the weight of this suggestion.

This appears to be more a profit maximation scheme than a patient centered approach to medical care. While his observations of the shortcomings of the medical field are largely accurate, his solution would best remain in the outfield bleachers from where it sprang forth. Prof. Berry should try escaping from his ivory tower more often.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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